Religion has long been seen as a great redeemer, and rightly so. The realm of religion has often stirred the public, particularly when divine personalities such as Lord Krishna, Jesus Christ, or Prophet Mohammed were involved. Religion often informs our values and has instilled a sense of connection in individuals, tying them together for millennia. Religious films are not uncommon in the cinematic world.
In this post, we attempt to deconstruct international cinema in search of the best movies that deal with Christianity. While there are apparent gray areas, we believe the films mentioned below have attempted to explore the various nuances and intricacies of Christianity in the most honest manner possible. Our assurance is based on a thorough examination of critical reviews, thematic analysis, biblical influence, and aesthetic reflection. Without further ado, here is a list of the best Christian movies. Several of these Christian films are also available on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Christian family films, Christian children’s films, black Christian films, and inspirational Christian films are all on the list.
Table Of Content
- 1 Andrei Rublev (1966)
- 2 Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
- 3 Ben-Hur (1959)
- 4 Black Narcissus (1947)
- 5 Chariots of Fire (1981)
- 6 Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
- 7 Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
- 8 Noah (2014)
- 9 Risen (2016)
- 10 Sergeant York (1941)
- 11 Silence (2016)
- 12 Soul Surfer (2011)
- 13 The Hiding Place (1975)
- 14 The Jesus Film (1979)
- 15 The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
- 16 The Mission (1986)
- 17 The Miracle Maker (2000)
- 18 The Night of the Hunter (1955)
- 19 The Passion of the Christ (2004)
- 20 The Ten Commandments (1956)
- 21 The Ultimate Gift (2006)
- 22 The Virgin Spring (1960)
- 23 To Save a Life (2009)
- 24 The Seventh Seal (1957)
- 25 Wise Blood (1979)
Andrei Rublev (1966)
Andrei Tarkovsky’s ‘Andrei Rublev,’ regarded as one of the greatest films of all time by critics worldwide, depicts the life of Russian iconographer Andrei Rublev. The film is a fantastic depiction of Russia in the 15th century. The picture was subjected to heavy censorship in the communist Soviet Union due to its uncertain political and religious stance. The atheistic Soviet government forbade the film’s official release since it was set against a Christian backdrop. It was universally praised for its profound conceptual substance, making it a classic Tarkovskian piece. Anatoly Solonitsyn, who played Andrei Rublev, received international recognition for his portrayal.
Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
Robert Bresson’s French film ‘Au Hasard Balthazar’ (1966), considered one of the best cinematic masterpieces of the twentieth century, is a strange work of art to say the least. It tells the story of a donkey and the people who live in its vicinity. The religious imagery depicted in the film is so striking that it causes some to question humanity itself. Despite the fact that the video largely depicts the life of a donkey, it is in many ways a commentary on life and its consequences. Some commentators viewed the film as a nutshell depiction of the globe.
William Wyler’s historical epic picture ‘Ben-Hur,’ based on Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel of the same name, can’t be regarded just another movie. It is a representation of a generation. It was not just critically acclaimed but also a box office success upon its initial release. It tells the narrative of a Jewish nobleman who returns to the time of Jesus Christ to exact revenge on a treacherous Roman ally. The film has a simple plot, but the concepts it addresses are quite profound. ‘Ben-Hur’ is widely regarded as one of the best films of all time.
Black Narcissus (1947)
‘Black Narcissus,’ directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and starring an ensemble cast, follows the lives and aspirations of a group of Himalayan nuns. It was universally praised for its outstanding technical feats and was known for its ambient cinematography. Jack Cardiff won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, while Alfred Junge won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction for the picture. It sparked a hornet’s nest since it featured nuns’ sexual desires, a topic that was deemed taboo at the time. After all is said and done, the film was historic in terms of influencing future cinematic works.
Chariots of Fire (1981)
‘Chariots of Fire,’ another historical drama on this list, tells the story of Harold Abrahams, an English Jew, and Eric Liddell, a Scottish Christian, who compete in the 1924 Olympics for opposing causes. The film begins in 1919, when Harold is confronted with anti-Semitism at work while performing his “runs” at Trinity College, Cambridge, and falls in love with Sybil, a fellow performer.
Eric comes from a family of ardent Scottish missionaries, and he sees running as a way to serve God. Eric and Harold eventually compete against one another, with Eric triumphing. They eventually join forces to compete at the Olympics, representing their respective countries. Eric first refuses to run on a Sunday, the Sabbath day. While Eric Liddell wins Gold, Abrahams is revealed to be married to Sybil after the race. Eric receives worldwide attention for his religious practices as he prepares to travel to China with his parents for missionary work. The film ‘Chariots of Fire’ made headlines because it was inspirational, morally uplifting, and ethically significant. What are your thoughts on the matter?
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
‘Hacksaw Ridge,’ a documentary-based biographical drama, is my personal favorite on this list. Desmond Doss, a pacifist medical officer who is a devout Adventist Christian and a conscientious objector (a person who refuses to perform any acts of violence on religious reasons), is the protagonist of the film. Doss was also awarded the Medal of Honour for going above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Okinawa, despite not firing a single shot. ‘Hacksaw Ridge,’ directed by Mel Gibson and one of his many faith-based films, earned multiple awards for Andrew Garfield’s portrayal in the major part. The film was also nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing.
Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
Now, on to possibly the most well-known, critically acclaimed, and financially successful faith-based film ever made about Jesus, the Birth of Christianity, and a story that spans all four New Testament books. All of the major events surrounding Jesus’ life and times are depicted in a more or less chronological order, beginning with the Virgin’s Betrothal and Marriage, the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, Mary’s Visitation to Elizabeth, Jesus’ circumcision, the Parable of the Two Sons, Jesus’ Betrayal by Judas, and the Last Supper, to name a few. The movie concludes with the crucifixion and the appearance of the Risen Christ. ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ gained critical and financial success, and was hailed as one of the best films depicting Jesus Christ’s life and times. We strongly advise you to view it right immediately!
Noah, one of the final Pre-Flood patriarchs, lives an idyllic, nomadic existence with his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, as well as his wife Naameh, in this film. They find a young girl named Ila with an abdominal wound and her family slaughtered as they set out to meet Methuselah, Noah’s grandpa, following Noah’s dreams of the great Flood that will wipe out everything. They decide to adopt her. Prior to the Great Flood, Noah must build an ark to hold all of the world’s flora and animals, all while facing Tubal-Cain, his arch-nemesis. ‘Noah’ was not well received by reviewers and moviegoers, but it was a tremendous hit from a Biblical perspective, with various Christian organizations applauding the attempts to bring the story to life.
Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect in charge of the crucifixion of prisoners in the Roman province of Judaea in 26 AD, tells his men to find the body of Yeshua, who was crucified with a few other men. Clavius and Lucius, as expected, are unable to locate his body. They begin questioning Yeshua’s disciples, and Clavius discovers a living and grinning Yeshua in an enclave with His disciples. Clavius then had a change of heart and becomes a member of Yeshua’s group after befriending him and his apostle Peter. Following Clavius’ departure, Lucius assumes charge and follows in Clavius’ footsteps. In a faith-based representation, Clavius’ metamorphosis from a non-belief to a severe believer makes up the majority of the tale of ‘Risen.’
Sergeant York (1941)
‘Sergeant York’ is one of those films that has subtle connections to faith and God, but even without them, it remains one of the most admired World War I films to this day. Alvin York, a Tennessee farmer whose life is in disarray, is the protagonist of the film. He survives a lightning strike while on a vengeance binge and experiences a spiritual awakening, which has been compared to Paul’s conversion in the Bible. York becomes more forgiving, abstains from alcohol, and joins the army. When he returns to New York City after the war, he emerges victorious as a World War I soldier and is given the Medal of Honour. Many honors were given to ‘Sergeant York,’ including the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Scorsese appears to have directed a good number of Biblical pictures, with ‘Silence’ adding to the list. The story follows two Jesuit priests, Sebastiao Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), who are on the hunt for another Jesuit priest, Cristovao Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who was tortured in Japan years ago. When Rodrigues and Garupe arrive in Japan, they are tortured by the sight of Samurai scouring the country for Christians to torture and burn. Rodrigues is kidnapped and taken captive, along with a large number of other Japanese Christian converts, who are forced to renounce their faiths or face execution. When Rodrigues eventually sees Ferreira, the latter informs him that he has abandoned his faith and that Christianity is not accepted in Japan. Rodrigues spends the rest of his life in Japan, away from Christianity, as he did during the Shimabara Revolt of the 1630s. Scorsese’s third religious picture, ‘Silence,’ is often regarded as one of his best works to date.
Soul Surfer (2011)
‘Soul Surfer’ is a biopic based on the true tale of Bethany Hamilton, a professional surfer who lost her hand after being attacked by a shark, but came back stronger than before. The film begins in the early 2000s, when Bethany, a girl living in Hawaii with her family, develops an interest in surfing. During a competition, a tiger shark bites off Bethany’s left arm, causing her to lose a lot of blood as well as the limb itself. Bethany then re-enters the tournament after learning the ropes of one-arm surfing. The Hamiltons’ faith in God, their endurance, and various Biblical connections practically make it a religious picture, albeit many of these references were eventually removed to make the film more appealing to non-Christian audiences. ‘Soul Surfer’ was well welcomed by critics and audiences alike.
The Hiding Place (1975)
‘The Hiding Place’ is a narrative of perseverance, faith, and true grit. It depicts Corrie’s and her family’s horrible ordeals during the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in the 1940s. Corrie’s family is sheltering Jews in their newly rebuilt home, which the Nazis find. The family is captured and tortured in a concentration camp for concealing Jews and collaborating with enemies when their Dutch collaborator falters. Corrie is only able to escape the camp due to a paperwork error, while her family members perish as a result of gassing. While the Jews they were supposed to be concealing were never discovered, Corrie dedicates her life to Jesus and the courage and love He placed upon her as a result of which she was able to survive the tragedy. ‘The Hiding Place’ is based on real-life Corrie Ten Boom’s autobiography.
The Jesus Film (1979)
At its core, ‘The Jesus Film’ is a biopic that follows the New Testament’s Gospel of Luke, depicting his birth, life with his disciples, miracles, appointing Apostles from among the disciples, his transfiguration, the Last Supper, and eventual crucifixion. Many reviewers praised it as “genuine,” while others found it tedious and unwatchable. ‘The Jesus Film’ is frequently referred to as the “most watched” motion picture of all time, with over 3 billion people worldwide having seen it. While we don’t know whether the claim is real or not, watching ‘The Jesus Film’ provides us with many of the answers we’ve been looking for about Jesus Christ’s life.
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
Martin Scorsese’s epic biblical drama ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ is an outstanding narrative of the life and temptations of Jesus of Nazareth. It is highly controversial yet widely praised. The film was slammed by the church for displaying Jesus Christ’s sexual fantasies. The film was deemed an artistic failure by the church. Furthermore, Christ was proved to be a human being with all of the same human virtues and vices as the rest of us. The film’s realism and humanization of religion were commended by critics.
The Mission (1986)
In the 1740s, Father Gabriel, a Spanish Jesuit priest, ventures into the North Argentinian wilderness in an attempt to convert the local tribals to Christianity. While his first attempts fail badly, the townspeople are charmed by his musical talent and allow him to stay. Rodrigo Mendoza is a mercenary who makes a living by kidnapping indigenous and selling them for a price to plantation owners. By the time Father Gabriel has a well-established mission in the wilderness, an enthralled Mendoza has agreed to join him. They must defend the mission together with the tribal warriors against the approaching Portuguese and Spanish invasions in the country. ‘The Mission’ earned positive reviews from critics, but movie was a commercial flop. It received a number of Academy Award nominations as well. In terms of religion, Church Times ranked it among the best 50 religious films of all time.
The Miracle Maker (2000)
Tamar, the daughter of a priest named Jairus of Capernaum in the Sea of Galilee, is the protagonist of ‘The Miracle Maker.’ The film begins with Jesus wandering into the wilderness, establishing a ministry near Capernaum during the “Sermon on the Mount,” the bestowing of the Ring of the Fisherman upon Simon, who proclaims Jesus to be the Messiah, and Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem for the Passover, the Last Supper, and his crucifixion. ‘The Miracle Maker’ covers all of the major events of the time period, as well as highlighting a third point of view (in this case, Tamar) who retells the entire story in its original form. The film was acclaimed as a visually compelling experience and earned high reviews from critics. In the film, Ralph Fiennes plays the role of Jesus.
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Charles Laughton’s ‘The Night of the Hunter,’ adapted from Davis Grubb’s novel of the same name, is as much about human frailties as it is about misguided faith. The film chronicles a serial killer’s attempt to rob a naive widow of a fortune stashed by an executed person. For its bleak portrayal of humanity, the film received almost universal acclaim. The effect of ‘The Night of the Hunter’ on subsequent filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese and the Coen Brothers is well documented.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
This Mel Gibson Biblical drama depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life, most notably the crucifixion and his rising on the third day, and is arguably one of the best films ever made about the life and times of Jesus Christ, albeit a little controversial as well. The film begins in the Garden of Gethsemane, where a praying Jesus is jailed after Judas’ betrayal, few days before his crucifixion. The bloodshed and gore featured in the film sparked controversy, yet from a cinematic standpoint, ‘The Passion of the Christ’ gained critical praise and remains one of the top grossing films of all time, as well as the biggest grossing religious film of all time.
The Ten Commandments (1956)
‘The Ten Commandment,’ known for being the final movie of famed American filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, is also his most lucrative enterprise. The biblical account of the Egyptian prince Moses and his reconciliation with his heavenly mission is told in this video. Moses is played by Charlton Heston in the film. ‘The Ten Commandments,’ considered one of the most important works of American film and one of the best in the epic genre, continues to be popular today.
The Ultimate Gift (2006)
This film follows Jason, a spoiled brat with flashy automobiles and a spendthrift girlfriend who lives on the whims of his wealthy parents. Jason is due to receive his multi-billion dollar fortune after his opulent grandfather, Richard, dies, under the condition that he completes a set of 12 activities within the year. He’ll be entitled to get the secret ultimate present his grandfather left for him if he does so. After all of his wealth has been taken from him, his girlfriend abandons him, leaving him alone and homeless.
Jason befriends Alexia and her daughter Emily after meeting with them. Jason gets kidnapped while on a journey to Ecuador to learn the truth about his father, and when he returns, he discovers Emily has terminal cancer. He uses all of his own money plus the money he receives from his grandfather’s estate to finish the mission of constructing Emily’s Home and a hospital for terminally ill individuals. Although there are no explicit references to faith, God, or religion in the film, they are all subtly inferred.
The Virgin Spring (1960)
‘The Virgin Spring,’ a bitter story of rape and revenge from the stables of famed Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, is one of the most controversial films from his stables. With themes ranging from faith’s strength to existential nihilism, the film was met with some controversy, as many spectators were unable to stomach the film’s intrinsic violence. The picture, which basically focuses on vengeance, succeeded in dividing critical opinion at the time, however it was ultimately unanimously praised. In 1961, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
To Save a Life (2009)
The adorable and inspirational story of Jake Taylor is told in ‘To Save a Life.’ It starts with Jake’s childhood buddy Roger’s suicide, and Jake wonders how he could have spared Roger’s life despite having everything at his disposal. Jake finds consolation in God and becomes a committed Christian without giving up any more. Things begin to fall apart, including Jake’s family, and he discovers that all of his friends have shunned him due to his distant behavior. His patience pays off in the end, and things start to fall into place for him. The authenticity of the performances in ‘To Save a Life’ was applauded.
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Known European artist Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Seventh Seal,’ which was selected as the eighth-greatest film of world cinema by the acclaimed Empire magazine in 2010, could be defined as a figurative meeting with death. It’s a dark fantasy film about a medieval knight and the human manifestation of death playing chess during the Black Death in Europe, and it seeks to solve a number of existential and philosophical concerns about life, death, and God’s presence. Bergman was firmly recognized as one of the pillars of international cinema as a result of this picture, which has become a cult classic during the last six decades.
Wise Blood (1979)
John Huston’s ‘Wise Blood,’ based on Flannery O’Connor’s novel of the same name, is a chilling portrayal of an ambitious young man who sets out to stamp his class on the wall by founding his own church and becoming a religious preacher. Through this one-of-a-kind endeavour, Huston attempts to disentangle faith and deception. ‘Wise Blood,’ a socially difficult and thematically contentious film, was praised by reviewers around the world for portraying a dark side of religion.
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